decent british fine dining near oxford circus. there was a lot of hype surrounding this restaurant when it first open, much like the burger & lobster, and of course I decided to wait until that died down a little before trying it. I rather enjoyed this meal, though I thought it was good rather than fantastic and I’m going to start sounding like a broken record player by saying I much prefer petrus.
the restaurant is much larger than I expected it to be, comprising of one large main dining room furnished with a dessert bar, as well as a smaller, casual-er bar area where you enter. tables are spaced rather close together, such that you can eavesdrop on your neighbors’ conversations if you choose to, but not so much that you can’t squeeze your way out without disturbing someone else.
we went for the lunch menu – which I much appreciate since these restaurants usually offer good-for-value lunch menus and hence I get to visit more (also another reason i was mildly annoyed at dinner by heston). the table next to us obviously had the à la carte and I have to say portion sizes look to be about the same, and I think the main difference between the lunch set and à la carte is the number of choices, and the latter also gives you the chance to sit at the dessert bar and observe the chef-fing.
so many words, and no description of the dishes. we started with complementary small bowls of fresh green olives and a salt cod brandade (essentially a spread) to go with the very tasty bread and butter. I don’t like olives, but these were relatively harmless and not overpoweringy olive-ly. the salt cod I couldn’t stop nibbling on and was really good.
my starter was a full english breakfast, really a highly savoury tomato paste with a mushroom-soup-tasting-emulsion, topped with a soft poached egg, croutons, fried parma ham and tiny mushrooms. very inventive and quite tasty, especially that layer of mushrooms. my partner had the seared scallop, which came singly on a large plate with a piece of cauliflower and romanesco. the vegetables were a little out of place to my thinking, but the scallop was fantastic. just barely uncooked in the middle, sweet and silky.
our mains came a wait later, and I had to fill the gap with a bit more of their tasty bread and salt cod. I had a main of seared/grilled cod (I think) on a smashing prawn bisque which was very flavourful, as well as some sweet and al-dente vegetables. we had suffered some diner envy earlier when we noticed plates of bone marrow being served to other tables, but we quickly realised it was part of the ox cheek main my partner had ordered. a plate arrived with some tender ox cheek sitting in gravy with a radish salad, as well as another plate with a bone marrow (do they reuse the bones?) with some bone marrow and oysters topped with crumbs. the ox cheek was very pink inside and shredded very easily, though it wasn’t very tasty – in fact, I thought it was very much like soup meat which has lost all its tasty essence. the bone marrow part was fantastic though, with well cooked and very tasty meat, as well as some very nice crumbs.
before our desserts was a complimentary and very amazing amuse bouche of >pineapple sorbet topped with a lychee foam and passionfruit syrup. a palate cleaser, and a very good one at that.
my partner had a passionfruit dessert, with passionfruit sorbet, a passionfruit-tasting meringue sheet and mango pudding. I had to eat this so that the pudding touched my tongue first, since the dessert was overall really sour and quite tangy. our other dessert was “strawberries and cookies” which didn’t sound that interestingbut came as strawberry ice cream, strawberry sheets, and cookie crumbs. this was creamy and rather well.
we finished the meal with two complimentary madeleines, which my partner remarked as “being the best part of the meal”. it was warm and good and everything a madeleine ought to be and sadly really was the dish that impressed us the most.
I have mixed feelings about this meal – without the hype it would be a very good restaurant, but as it is, the restaurant is decent though I do wonder about the hype
that even now carries on. check it out and let me know what you think!